Oklahoma ACLU Files Suit Against State Ban on Critical Race TheoryBreaking News
tags: culture war, teaching history, critical race theory
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the state's controversial ban on critical race theory in public school. The suit argues that Oklahoma's HB 1775 bill prevents Black, female, LGBTQ+ and indigenous students from being taught their history.
In addition to the ACLU, the lawsuit was filed by several students and teachers, the Oklahoma NAACP, the Oklahoma University American Association of University Professors, American Indian Movement-Indian Territory and the Black Emergency Response Team, a group of student teachers from Oklahoma University who work to make the school safer for diverse voices. The groups argue that HB 1775 makes their collective goal of promoting diversity difficult, opens students up to "heightened levels of racial and gender hostility and harassment" and infringes on their academic freedom to both teach and study topics like African American history and gender studies.
"The Act's vague, overbroad, and viewpoint discriminatory provisions leave Oklahoma educators with an impossible-and unconstitutional-choice: avoid topics related to race or sex in class materials and discussions or risk losing their teaching licenses for violating the law," the lawsuit reads.
HB 1775 was first approved in April 2021 and directly prohibited teachers from teaching topics like white privilege and the history of white supremacy in the U.S. The bill also allowed public high schools and colleges to make gender, harassment and diversity trainings optional instead of mandatory for students and staff.
"All young people deserve to learn an inclusive and accurate history in schools, free from censorship or discrimination," Emerson Sykes, ACLU staff attorney, said in a statement Tuesday. "The bill was intended to inflame a political reaction, not further a legitimate educational interest. These infirmities in the law are all the more troubling because the bill applies to public colleges and universities, where the First Amendment is especially protective of academic freedom."
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